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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Soulful beginnings

Navleen Lakhi, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, February 17, 2014
First Published: 10:09 IST(17/2/2014) | Last Updated: 13:04 IST(17/2/2014)

Your mundane life gives you the liberty to breathe music for a day. You leap at the opportunity, and the search ends at the outskirts of Chandigarh, in village Hasanpur, playing host to a team shooting Bollywood film Jugni since the beginning of the month. According to them, the flick has no ‘big stars, production houses or so-called biggies’. The intrigue still leads one to explore the film’s story, touted to be a musical.

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Sitting on a chair in front of the monitor, giving commands to her actors, she effortlessly acquires attention. A glance at her introduces you to her dreamy-yetconfident eyes, signaling you to wait till she finishes. This must be Shefali Bhushan’s directorial debut, but hearing her list of influential work, you know why she’s brimming with confidence.

“I’m a product of Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi, and was involved in theatre with groups such as Act One Art Group. In 2000, I started a project called Beat of India (www.beatofindia. com), a portal that promotes Indian folk music and has a collection of over 5,000 songs from 80 folk singers from Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal,” says Shefali, who is also trained in Hindustani classical music.


Unlike many who fear disclosing the story, Shefali amazes you when she says, “Vibhavari, a young free-spirited woman music director, is working on her first big break in the Hindi film industry. When work and affairs at home (with her live-in boyfriend) hit the high tide she hits the road with a glint of hope, to find music.

The journey takes her to a village in Punjab in search of a local singer, Bibi Saroop, whose voice holds the promise that Vibs is searching for. But, as fate would have it, Mastana, Bibi’s son and a proficient singer himself, is the voice and the man who finds his way into Vibs’ heart. From here on, Jugni is about striking balances, making tough decisions while trying to soften the blows and dealing with the dramatic turns and unpredictability of life, and finding a place one can call home.”

Hence, Shefali terms it a ‘relationship film’, and adds, “In sub-threads, we are also looking at if musicians are getting their due once their music is used in the industry, how there is a change of climate. It’s all, however, fiction. It’s a film of today.”

From Beat of India to Jugni, one wonders if the film is based on or ‘inspired by’ an artiste’s life. “I have met around 80 artists and their stories are overlapping. The life and threats are similar to most artists’ lives. Almost all artists I have recorded with are living the last chapter. It’s a tribute to those artistes. One takes something from one’s life at some level. When the story is fictional, you take cues from your life experiences and what you have seen,” says Shefali, who is also the writer of the film.

Shefali is also pretty sure about the industry’s reaction, which she says will be positive. “When the team works in cohesion and everybody is on the same page, they end up creating an intangible magic that always works. Creativity and art are always intangible. It’s the X factor that makes it work. Otherwise, one can have the best of elements and things still don’t work out,” she shares.

Next on her cards are two projects — Tirth Ram Prasad, a satire on the TV news industry and Faiza, a musical period film (19201980) on the life of a singer.

Three to tango

Their basic work, they say, is to make sure that their 'director remains happy'. They are the producers -- Manas Malhotra and Karan Grover -- of Jugni. Though both are MBAs, filmmaking was where their heart lay.

From working with various production houses, such as Bharatbala Productions and Percept Picture Company, to being a production consultant at Fox Star Studios, to handling marketing of Mangal Pandey to producing Beyond Bollywood -- Manas says, "Today, getting a film out that doesn't have stars or a godfather, is difficult. One doesn't come across women-oriented themes very often. But, even before the film went on floors, we started with online promotions, because we want to create a community before the release. A lot of will happen on digital space."

Adding to it, Karan Grover, who has earlier producer Dhoop, says, "For us, the music and the story are the stars. The way we are treating is not today's trend. The cast and crew are working on the project because they relate to it in some way; they are not doing it for money or credit. Elements are the whole storyline."

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